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OHSAS 18001 Blog

Specifics of implementing OHSAS 18001 in the retail sector

Employee and customer safety and well-being should be as important to organizations in the retail sector as those in any other in advanced business sectors. It therefore stands to reason that many retail organizations are becoming certified against OHSAS 18001 in order to increase safety and well-being amongst their employees and customers alike. So, given this upsurge in popularity in building an efficient OHSAS 18001-certified OH&SMS (Operational Health and Safety Management System), what should a retail company’s objectives be, and what steps can be taken to ensure that the OHSAS 18001 implementation gives full benefit?

Identifying hazards in the retail sector

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A retail manager I spoke to recently was quizzical on why a retail organization would need an OH&SMS, but one quick internet search quickly uncovered the following recent incidents:

  • Slips and trips hazards causing injury to employees
  • Pallet lift hazards in certain areas
  • Shelf stacking and hazards related to working at heights
  • Danger of attack or assault by a member of the public
  • One tragic incident in the UK where a small child died in an accident with a piece of internal display in a shop, which may prove to have been faulty and is under investigation

Therefore, it is relatively easy to build a compelling case as to why all organizations above a certain headcount should have an OHSAS 18001-certified OH&SMS within the organization. So, given that, what advice and tips can a retail organization utilize to ensure that implementation is as painless as possible and maximum impact is gained from the OH&SMS?

OHSAS 18001 in the retail sector – How?

As with any organization complying with the OHSAS 18001 standard, the basics have to be satisfied. A Health and Safety Policy will have to be written to specifically deal with the general restrictions, hazards, and objectives aligned with the company and its activities. All clauses of the OHSAS 18001 standard will need to be satisfied, but it may pay dividends to concentrate specifically on certain elements that may allow you to derive extra benefit for your retail business:

  • Compliance with legislation: As with any organization attempting to implement OHSAS 18001, compliance with legislation in your region is vital to both the upkeep of your OH&SMS, and to maintaining your knowledge base to protect your employees.
  • Leadership requirements: This clause is vital in most sectors, and retail is no different from the others. Most organizations tend to reflect their leaders’ behaviors to some extent, and having a leader who sets an example by giving proper importance to health and safety can be advantageous. If you can ensure that your leader and organization’s top management lead and contribute to the company’s OH&SMS, its chance of effectiveness can become greatly increased. You can learn more about this topic in the article: How to demonstrate leadership according to ISO/DIS 45001.
  • Hazard identification: This element is central to the success of any OH&SMS. Accurately identifying the [link] hazards [link to https://advisera.com/18001academy/documentation/procedure-for-operational-control/] attached to the business – for both employees and customers – can provide the foundation for increased employee safety and well-being. It goes without saying that taking concise and effective actions to remove or mitigate any risk found is equally important. You can find out more in the article: Hazard vs. risk: What is the difference according to ISO/DIS 45001?
  • Recording and taking action against near misses: This is one of the critical areas a retail business can use to ensure future accident prevention and continual improvement through learning from mistakes.
  • Consultation and participation: This is another element that can make a vast difference to the success of your OH&SMS. Your employees – and, to a more limited degree, your customers – will have the best idea of what the risks and hazards in your business actually are. Ensure that you consult with and involve them at every opportunity. From an employee perspective, this not only goes a long way toward increasing their safety, but it also helps to build a culture of health and safety. From a customer point of view, having their opinions sought and feeling valued can be the key to building a long-lasting client-customer relationship. The article: How to meet consultation and participation requirements in ISO 45001 can provide valuable information on this topic.

Concentrating on these specific elements of OHSAS 18001 was therefore found to be helpful in the retail sector, but was there any more we could learn to help our OH&SMS be successful?

Making your OH&SMS effective

The retail sector has significant challenges in terms of environment, interaction with the public, and the machinery, technology, and equipment used. The task of implementing OHSAS 18001, however, is similar to that in most sectors. The quality of your leadership will determine whether good habits exist, the ability to identify and mitigate risk and hazards will remain vital, and the consultation with and involvement of your employees can provide the glue to ensure that your OH&SMS sticks together and produces good results. Remember the ethos of the “Plan, Do, Check, Act” cycle, and this can help to drive your continual improvement. As with all standards, this is a business tool: happy and healthy employees will provide better service to customers, who in turn will feel valued and return.

Why not use our free  Project Plan for OHSAS 18001 implementation to manage implementation of the standard in your sector?

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